Here in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, they’re seemingly everywhere: large bowls filled with carbs, protein, and veg. Comic Patton Oswalt famously coined the term “failure pile in a sadness bowl” for KFC’s gut-bomb version, but in the Twin Cities, where our local restaurants are creating some nourishing, surprising, and internationally inspired variations, we’re not yet set on a name: “Bowl Meals,” “Fill-Me-Ups,” “Meal-in-Bowl,” “All-in-Ones”? There’s World Street Kitchen’s Yum Yum Rice Bowls, Don Yang’s Bimbibab, Pimento’s Jerk Bowls, Trieu Chau’s Bun Thap Cam, and Dark Horse’s Rice Bowls, to name but a few. And now Moroccan Flavors, a recent addition to the Midtown Global Market, is upping the area’s all-in-one game with satisfying tagine and couscous dishes.
Moroccan Flavors illuminates a cavernous corner of the Global Market with bright food and even brighter blue walls, tables, and benches. Chef-owner Hassan Ziadi (below, left), who sharpened his skills in numerous local restaurants, including Aquavit, Sanctuary, and Vincent, runs the small kitchen with his wife, Samlali Raja. On both of our visits, Ziadi welcomed customers, patiently answered questions, and served his dishes with unmistakable joy and pride.
Ziadi’s sunny disposition and commitment to excellence comes through in his food. This is especially true in the braised beef tagine ($10), the undisputed star of the restaurant’s brief, focused menu. (Tagine gets is name from a ceramic pot with a conical top and flat base, ideal for slow-cooking stew.) Along with high quality, fork-tender cubes of beef, the dish includes turmeric rice moistened with beef broth, almond slices, and stewed apricots and prunes. Combined in a bowl, the ingredients make for a delicious, balanced, and texturally interesting entree and a fantastic introduction to Moroccan flavors. We’re already craving another.
Ziadi’s main vegetarian option ($8) is a winner, too. The chef tops fluffy, flavorful couscous with chickpeas, caramelized onions and raisins, and a gaggle of vegetables: carrot, butternut squash, turnip, and cabbage. Although satisfying, the naturally sweet dish needed a pinch of salt and a touch of acid. We recommend a side order of Ziadi’s wonderful charred, marinated peppers and briny olives to complete this bowl (sides are available as a combo for $9 or singly for $4.75).
If you’re not into peppers or olives, Ziadi’s beet salad is also delicious. Cilantro, parsley, cumin, and a shake of vinegar perk up the beets without overwhelming them. Although in need of a squeeze of lemon or some other acid, roasted and pureed eggplant is a solid side. We weren’t crazy about two other salads: the spicy cauliflower was too mushy, and the marinated zucchini was just lackluster.
But back to the bowl game: braised chicken and vegetables over couscous ($9) has the basic components of the vegetarian bowl festooned with a large piece of chicken (thigh and leg) and several spoonfuls of chicken broth. The flavorful fowl is a bit dry, but it pairs well with the root vegetables and sweet onion and raisin mixture.
Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t hype Moroccan Flavors’ iced tea ($2). Ziadi steeps green tea with mint and adds sugar. It’s a simple, refreshing sip that goes magnificently with the restaurant’s healthy, affordable, and tasty one-stop meals.
Couscous and tagines at the Midtown Global Market
Midtown Global Market
920 E Lake St
Minneapolis, MN 55407
OWNER / CHEF: Hassan Ziadi
Mon-Sat 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Sun 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / Yes
ENTREE RANGE: $4.75-$9.95
PARKING: Street parking on Lake St and parking ramp with validation